Favourite stories

This week Whovian Leap puts his cards on the table.

William Hartnell – The Romans

An entertaining tale which sees the First Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki enjoying a well-earned holiday in Ancient Rome. It is a witty, enjoyable watch with a fine performance by Derek Francis as the loopy Nero who develops a slight crush on poor old Barbara. 

Patrick Troughton – The War Games 

This mammoth ten parter stands out and not just for being the Second Doctor’s final adventure. The basic premise is pure genius – the War Lords picking soldiers from throughout Earth’s history and turning them into the ultimate fighting force. Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke’s breathtaking adventure takes us on a roller coaster ride through Earth’s bloody history. The adventure is topped off by our first ever trip to Gallifrey. 

Jon Pertwee – Spearhead from Space

This was the first colour Doctor Who story. Shot entirely on film, it has a cinematic feel. “Spearhead” introduces us to both the Third Doctor and the Autons. The Brigadier is a tough military figure and not the loveable comedy figure he later becomes. The story is incredibly tense and dramatic and features that famous shop window sequence, when dummies smash through the glass and go on a horrific killing spree. 

Jon Pertwee’s adventures guarantee the most consistent quality in terms of writing and entertainment value of all the classic Doctors, although the stories did feel a little cosy towards the end of his run. Like other Season Seven adventures, “Spearhead” feels more like “The Avengers” or “James Bond”. Pertwee cuts a sprightly, dashing figure here before he gradually turned into your karate-kicking granddad. 

Tom Baker – City of Death

There are so many adventures in Baker’s mammoth seven year run that it is difficult to know where to start. If we are to generalise a little, we might say that they start off as pure sci-fi, then go gothic, then turn silly and then finally end up again as hardcore sci-fi. City of Death is towards the end of Baker’s run and it manages to blend all of these genres together. Set in Paris, the Doctor and Romana are quite obviously enjoying themselves. Douglas Adam’s script is both witty and frightening and Scaroth is a charming, but terrifying villain. Hardly surprising then that RTD and Julie Gardner used this story as a template for how they wanted Nu-Who to be, when devising the new series in 2004.

Peter Davison – The Caves of Androzani

This tale is dark, gritty, fast-paced and emotional. Robert Holmes’ intricately crafted script allows Peter Davison to flex his acting muscles in some of the most dramatic scenes ever seen in Doctor Who. Davison shows us what a wonderful Doctor he is, just as he takes his final bow. The main villain Sharek Jek, a deep, complex and scarred character, dominates his every scene. If we were to compare “Caves” to Davison’s other tales, it is like comparing Rambo to Lassie!

Colin Baker – The Ultimate Foe

Baker’s final tale is Whovian heaven. It regales us with gifts galore – the Master, the Matrix, an evil version of the Doctor and a glorious cliffhanger. It was a final hurrah for Colin Baker’s Doctor but also for the show in its form as a purely fan-pleasing entity, before McCoy’s imaginative and original stories came to the fore under script editor, Andrew Cartmel.

Sylvester McCoy – The Greatest Show in the Galaxy

The Seventh’s Doctor run is generally considered something of a curate’s egg. “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” has some pretty serious competition from the likes of “Remembrance of the Daleks”, “The Curse of Fenric” and “Ghost Light”. Yet other tales such as “Time and the Rani” are entertainingly naff. “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” is the perfect vehicle for the comedic yet devious Seventh Doctor. It has a witty, imaginative script, with colourful and larger than life characters. The Chief Clown is pure evil and deserves a return to Nu-Who.

Paul McGann – The Night of the Doctor

Once upon a time we only had one Eighth Doctor TV adventure to enjoy – the 1995 TV movie. Now, Great Moff be praised, we have not one but two! “The Night of the Doctor” sent fans into apoplexy. When it was released online, we sat gobsmacked in front of our tablets, phones and PCs. Whovians will always remember where they were when they first saw “The Night of the Doctor”. 

Back in 1995 Paul McGann turned in a stunning performance as the Eighth Doctor and fans felt short-changed when the TV movie didn’t go to series. For years we had been hoping that he would turn up in Nu-Who. We were highly pessimistic, as RTD and the Great Moff had no narrative reason for him to do so. Thankfully we were proved wrong. In “Night” we see the exhausted and battle-scarred Eighth Doctor meet his dark and disturbing end.

Christopher Eccleston – Father’s Day

Right from the outset when Jackie is talking to little Rose about her late father, I had a lump in my throat. As the story progressed, a tear or two ran down my cheeks. Doctor Who had always excited and frightened me, but it had never made me cry. Watching “Father’s Day” I was a slave to the combination of Billie Piper’s acting, Paul Cornell’s script and Murray Gold’s music. This tale of how Rose attempts to save her father’s life is, quite simply, one of the Doctor Who greats.

David Tennant – Turn Left

Like “Father’s Day” this story revolves around the Doctor’s companion. This time it is Donna. It appeals in a similar way, as it too tugs on your heart strings, thanks to RTD’s script, Catherine Tate’s and Bernard Cribbins’ breath-taking performances and Murray Gold’s score. The plot is a traditional sci-fi alternative reality scenario and satisfies fans by showing the Doctor’s recent adventures. 

Matt Smith – The Doctor’s Wife

This is a stylish production of a quirky and dramatic script with imaginative characters and high production values. It is a tale which tinkers with Doctor Who lore itself – we meet the Tardis personified! Suranne Jones plays her eccentric role with charming enthusiasm. Her character’s witty banter and loving rapport with the Eleventh Doctor are a joy to behold. Rory and Amy’s Tardis corridor scenes are memorably dark and terrifying. Neil Gaiman provides viewers with a script which feels as if it has been penned by the great Douglas Adams himself! 

And what of Peter Capaldi? It’s too early to say, but as you might suspect from the photo above, I already have a slight liking for “Flatline”…

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